Blackpool head’s pledge after school pupils ‘riot’

Highfield Humanities College
Highfield Humanities College
  • A Blackpool high school were forced to call in police after up to 200 out-of-control students “ran riot”
  • 999 was called after a spat between two schoolboys led to students chasing each other through the corridors
  • Police have stepped up patrols in the area, with officers visiting several times a day to maintain a ‘visible presence’
  • School insiders say it’s only a matter of time before somebody is seriously hurt or killed at the school

Teachers at a troubled Blackpool high school were forced to call in police after up to 200 of out-of-control students “ran riot”.

Staff at Highfield Humanities College in South Shore dialled 999 after a spat between two schoolboys led to a crowd of students chasing each other through the corridors.

Lynette Norris

Lynette Norris

School insiders say it’s only a matter of time before somebody is seriously hurt or killed at the school – although headteacher Lynette Norris has pledged to “stamp out this silly and unnecessary behaviour.”

Parents of youngsters at Highfield, which the government ordered to become an academy after it was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, were sent a letter outlining the crackdown ahead of an open meeting with the Tauheedul Education Trust (TET), which is poised to take over the school.

Mrs Norris said: “We had a dangerous episode where too many of the school population gathered together and ran around school chasing each other.

“It started very simply by two boys who fell out but then quickly gathered momentum with others joining in ‘for fun’.

The kids have the power and they know it, and the teachers 100 per cent fear for their safety. At some point soon, someone will be hurt. It will happen

“The numbers involved in the chase became so dangerous we were concerned and the police were asked to come and speak to the individuals concerned.

“We are taking a hard stance here as children’s safety is paramount.”

Special assemblies have been held at the school, and youngsters who break the rules will now be given breaktime and lunchtime detentions as part of a ‘stepped approach’ to its disciplinary procedure, Mrs Norris said.

But one insider warned: “The kids have the power and they know it, and the teachers 100 per cent fear for their safety. At some point soon, someone will be hurt. It will happen.”

He added: “The riot started with this one lad goading another through a glass wall between classrooms.

“Then other kids got involved and it turned into a riot. There were 200 kids involved and the teachers couldn’t hold them back.”

He said the assemblies involved showing footage of the Hillsborough disaster, when 96 people were killed and 766 injured at a football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989.

Members of the Highfield Residents Action Group (HRAG), set up to oppose plans to academise the open-plan school, have called for extra staff to help control the unruly students.

Lee Taylor said: “They need a higher visual presence around the rear door and lunch area. They could do with one of the Highfield ward bobbies actually being in school at the start of lunch by matching their community rounds rather than several police cars having to be called in response to an incident.”

And Ray Lee said: “It may also be an idea to ask for volunteer parents and guardians to assist in providing basic patrolling and guidance skills in school at peak times.

“There are probably some part-time working parents and retired grandparents that would be willing to help out and also provide a link into the community.”

Insp Mark Morley, of Blackpool Police, said there are a ‘number of behavioural issues’ at the school, which has been visited on several occasions since last Thursday’s rampage. He said: “We have conducted reassurance visits to the school but there have been no other reported incidents.

“A school PCSO is spending time in the school, just showing a visible presence at break-times, lunchtimes, and at the end of the day.”

Blackpool Council’s schools boss Coun John Jones, who backed the takeover and praised TET’s record, said he was aware of the incident, but would not comment further.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We were called at around 1.50pm last Thursday to reports from the school that some pupils became aggressive and were running around the school.

“The school could not control them.”

Officers attended and left around an hour later, the spokesman added.

No specific allegations were made by pupils or teachers and no subsequent investigation was launched.